Jessica Anderson intended to play softball at St. Michael’s College. It seemed the natural course after beating 0.408 in his final year at Springfield High School. Ten of his 22 hits were extra basic.
But SMC coach Carla Hesler needed a goalie for the lacrosse team and Anderson had previously played in Hesler’s Purple Knights goal on the field hockey field.
“I had planned to play softball in St. Michael’s, but she was in a tough spot,” said Anderson, now Jessica Dodge and living in Billerica, Massachusetts. “She needed a goalie.
Anderson immersed himself in learning the position of a lacrosse goaltender.
“I needed to learn the sport and I needed to be open-minded,” said Dodge.
“I started training right away. Reed Watson had coached at Temple and was very good at coaching goalies.
“He spent a week with me in Florida. He and his wife had both been coaches for a long time.
There was a lot to learn that week. There are some similarities to playing position in field hockey, but there are also many differences.
Dodge did not consider the transition from softball to lacrosse difficult.
“I didn’t think it was a difficult choice back then,” said Dodge. “I saw it as an opportunity to play for a coach that I loved.”
This attitude helped her make the transition to a new sport.
“I had to learn the angles and how to clear. I had to learn the rules of the game and how the game was played, ”said Dodge.
It was field hockey, downhill skiing and softball for her while wearing the Springfield Cosmos green.
She was part of the Springfield field hockey team that won the Marble Valley League Championship in 2000 and played for Vermont against New Hampshire in the Twin State Field Hockey Classic in 2001.
She was an American lacrosse star in the MSC, and in 2005 she was the United States goaltender for the United States Women’s College Lacrosse Team that competed for the Melbourne Cup.
She has garnered numerous honors and the latest will be her induction into the Springfield High School Sports Hall of Fame on March 5.
She married another Springfield High graduate, Ed Dodge, and their two sons, aged 7 and 11, play sports.
“When I was in Springfield I wanted to play soccer but they said it’s only for boys. Now my boys play soccer and they have girls on their team. I think it’s great.” said Dodge.